Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, just confirmed with us over the phone that she is considering retiring at the end of her 10th term in office.
We had called to ask her about rumors circulating in recent weeks that she would not run in 2012. This is what she just told us:
“What is true that at the end of this term, this new term, I will have completed 20 years, and I will be 75 years old. So the truth is of course I’m reassessing now. . . . I have made a commitment to my staff that I will have made a decision about my future plans sometime in early June.”
She continued saying, “We are going to have a whole bunch of capable people running for my seat if I give it up it. I want them to have a chance to get out there and let people know them.”
Last month, Woolsey, 72, won re-election for a 10th term, handily beating Rohnert Park businessman Jim Judd 66 percent to 29.7 percent. If she does step down, she said “My satisfaction is that I know it is my choice.”
Woolsey, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has represented the 6th Congressional District since 1993. With Republicans having taken back the House, the prospects for the progressive agenda have dimmed considerably. For example, Woolsey had long hoped that a single-payer system or at least a public option would evolve out of the health care debate. Now, with the shift in power in Washington, she and other progressives are probably just hoping to hold on the reform measures passed earlier this year.
If Woolsey does step down, some of the names that have emerged as possibly making a run for her seat are Assemblyman Jared Huffman, who will be termed out in two years, State Sen. Noreen Evans, who just won the election to succeed Sen. Pat Wiggins, and Petaluma Mayor Pam Torliatt. Progressive activist Norman Solomon of Point Reyes Station also is reportedly thinking of making a run.
Two things to consider: Two recently approved state ballot propositions could have a significant impact on the next Congressional race – whether Woolsey is a candidate or not. Proposition 20 approved last month means that the 6th Congressional District will be redrawn by an independent committee that is now being selected. Proposition 14 approved in June created an open primary system. This means in the 2012 primary, the names of all the candidates will appear on the ballot and the top two will face off in the fall. This means the general election, for the first time, could include two Democrats, opening the possibility of a more moderate candidate winning the seat.
- Paul Gullixson